According to the European Commission, the EU should reduce its gas consumption by 15 percent in the coming months, if necessary under duress. President von der Leyen believes in a complete freeze on gas supplies from Russia, which would hit the EU hard.
In the event of a gas emergency, EU states should be able to be forced to save gas, according to the will of the European Commission. Specifically, the Brussels authority proposed that binding reduction targets should be possible if not enough is saved. The EU countries should voluntarily do everything to reduce their consumption in the coming months by 15 percent compared to the average of the previous five years.
A prerequisite for the introduction of mandatory savings targets would be that the EU Commission fears acute emergencies due to an undersupply of gas. It can also declare a state of emergency if requested to do so by at least three EU countries. A reduction of more than 15 percent could also be specified for mandatory specifications for savings targets, as can be seen from the proposed law. Things such as storage levels and the supply situation with liquid gas, for example, should be taken into account.
When presenting the plan, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made it clear that she considers a complete stop to gas supplies from Russia to the European Union to be likely. "We must prepare for a complete disruption of Russian gas supplies," said the German politician. "This is a likely scenario."
It has been seen in the past that Russia is trying to put pressure on the EU by reducing gas supplies. According to von der Leyen, a complete stop in deliveries would hit all EU countries hard. At the same time, she stressed that the EU could overcome the difficulties if it acted as one. Von der Leyen also said that twelve EU countries were no longer being supplied with gas from Russia, or only to a limited extent. "Russia is blackmailing us, Russia is using energy as a weapon," von der Leyen said. EU Commission Vice Frans Timmermans accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of attacking individual countries by turning off the gas supply in order to weaken Europe as a whole. "All of Europe is under attack," he said.
It was initially unclear whether and to what extent Germany would have to further reduce its gas consumption in order to achieve the 15 percent target. In the first five months of the year, gas consumption in Germany was a good 14 percent lower than in the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs. "Even adjusted for temperature effects, gas consumption in the current year was 6.4 percent below the value for the same period last year," it said, referring to figures from the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries.
In May it was even 34.7 percent - adjusted 10.8 percent - less than in the same period last year. The Ministry announced that electricity generation from gas was also declining significantly. In the first five months, this was a good 14 percent lower than in the same period last year. Whether the EU Commission's plan will become reality remains to be seen in the coming days. The EU states still have to approve the project. There is to be a special meeting of EU energy ministers on Tuesday.
Recently there have been concerns that Russia will not turn on the gas tap on the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline after a scheduled maintenance that could be over this week. According to afternoon data from network operator Gascade, deliveries have been announced for Thursday. However, the data now available do not reveal with certainty whether and how much gas will actually come from Thursday. According to the EU Commission, in June Russia delivered less than a third of the usual amount compared to the average for the past five years.
According to the state news agency TASS, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday night that if Russia does not receive back a turbine repaired in Canada, the daily throughput capacity of the pipeline threatens to fall significantly at the end of July. Von der Leyen said the turbine is on its way to Russia.
A draft of the plan stipulated that public buildings, offices and commercial buildings should be heated to a maximum of 19 degrees and cooled down to no less than 25 degrees with air conditioning. These specifications are no longer contained in the proposals now presented.